Home > Uncategorized > The beginning of the year

The beginning of the year

Textbooks

School’s back in: dorms have become inhabited, homeworks assigned, books purchased, and writing implements purchased. This is as ready as it gets.

On the topic of textbooks: as I was rummaging through bookstore shelves for a bargain on a used copy of Modern Engineering Statistics (no dice: $159 for a new copy) and other various texts, I noticed the nearby piles of books for the more social of sciences and found them, well, surprising. Surprising for my school, that is. As I’ve discussed before, I’ve not witnessed many of the academic biases that colleges have become notorious for.

And judging from these books, the recommended or required reading for certain courses, it’s more a matter that the more inflammatory political topics are reserved for classes on the subject. I don’t recall which class it was for, but one book particularly caught my eye: After Capitalism by David Schweickart. Quoth Wikipedia:

In After Capitalism and other works Schweickart has developed the model of market socialism he refers to as Economic Democracy. It embodies several key ideas:

* Workplace self-management, including election of supervisors
* Democratic management of capital investment by a form of public banking
* A (mostly) free market for goods, raw materials, instruments of production, etc.
* Socialist protectionism to enforce trade equality between nations

The firms and factories are owned by society and managed by the workers. These enterprises, so managed, compete in markets to sell their goods. Profit is shared by the workers. Each enterprise is taxed for the capital they employ, and that tax is distributed to public banks, who fund expansion of existing and new industry.

On another tack, Metallica recently released the first single off their as-yet upcoming album. When I first heard of this, I surfed on over to their MySpace, to have a listen. (It has since been removed for some reason.) And in the last few days I’ve probably heard it a few times in various places, most notably while watching various Metallica YouTube videos.

But it wasn’t until the local radio station DJ spun the track while I was driving home that I really listened to it, analyzed it, and formed any kind of judgement. Something about driving in a car sharpened my ear, so to speak, to cause me to listen to the track in a completely different way. I wonder if it comes from years of listening to music in the car, or there is some kind of mental division of labor while driving that busies the mechanical part of the brain that grows bored during inactivity and frees the more creative sectors to process this musical noise more efficiently.

I’m also, obviously, having to readjust my habits in this new school year because of the change of dorm. This change has manifested itself most notably in eating habits: instead of having a dining hall next door as I did last year, I have a row of a dozen or more restaurants that will form my dining hall for the coming year.

But because I kept my watchful eye on the Technician by reading it over lunch or dinner at that dining hall, picking a copy up on my way in, I’ll have to be more deliberate in my acquisition of each day’s issue to insure good coverage, so to speak.

I’ve also been puzzling over why the Technician seems to make such good use of the newspaper medium where just about every other actual newspaper seems to be faltering and crumbling. I think it is largely based on the extreme geographic confinement of its audience: where the USA Today literally serves the nation, the audience of the Technician — the students of NC State — inherently concentrates itself into a few square miles on a daily basis.

And personally, I find I generally read the paper while other forms of content delivery such as wifi are out of the question, such as in the dining halls or on the buses that I find myself riding with increasing frequency. Of course, the real solution to that problem is just to blanket those areas in sweet wireless internet and obviate the need for the dead tree forms of news.

I was also just flipping through my flickr account and thought this was worth linking to all over again. Sighted in the basement of the local math building.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Hazel
    August 24, 2008 at 11:28 pm

    Oh, there’s plenty of bias here; you’ve just been hanging around in the subjects that involve actual facts as opposed to interpretation (granted, I have too thus far, but I’m sure it will come up in at least one of my courses this semester–many humanities). It is theoretically possible, however, that that book is intended for comparative analysis in whatever class instead of actually being presented as a good idea… if one is to think optimistically.

  2. Hober Short
    August 25, 2008 at 1:13 am

    I actually was going to follow up the blockquote with something like “I can only hope in vain that this is being taught in counterpoint to (link to Economic in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt)” but I’d need to slap on an Obama bumper sticker to have that much hope.

    Also, your frequent comments don’t disturb me, as much as you fear they might. However, the speed of your response to this makes me hope dearly that it was brought to your attention to via some kind of aggregator. The alternative (you constantly checking my erstwhile dormant blog for updates) would be alarming, to say the least.

  3. Hazel
    August 25, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    Well, no better way to say something bothers you than bringing it up in the middle of a completely unrelated topic.

    I’ll admit that I do come here a couple times a day, but not for any sort of creepy or weird reason as you seem to assume. I simply get bored and go through all the blogs I have bookmarked for any sort of news whatsoever, so I hope that’s a viable excuse for visiting.

    This time, actually, I had been thoroughly occupied for at least five hours and apparently happened to check just after the post. I may have waited had there been a timestamp to avoid just such an awkward occurrence, but couldn’t find one.

  1. September 5, 2008 at 7:08 am

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